We Cannot Get Even

An important spring of action for the transfer society is the desire by most people to get even in the redistribution struggle. “I have been victimized in the past by taxation, inflation, regulation, or other devices,” so the argument goes. “Therefore I am entitled to partake in this particular benefit.” Or the time sequence may be reversed: “I’ll be victimized later in life,” pleads the college student, “and therefore I want state aid and subsidy now.”

This argument is probably the most powerful pacifier of conscience. It dulls our perception and discernment of what is evil and makes us slow to shun it. After all, we are merely getting back “what is rightfully our own.” With a curious twist of specious deduction the modern welfare state, which continually seizes and redistributes private property by force, is defended by the friends of individual liberty and private property. “Man is entitled to the fruits of his labor,” they argue. “We are merely getting back that which is rightfully and morally our own.” They borrow the arguments for the private property order to sustain the political transfer order.

Surely getting back that which is rightfully and morally our own is a principle that is rooted in our inalienable right to our lives. It is a property right that springs from our human rights and from the right to life itself. It is the right to restoration of the fruits of our efforts and labors of which we are deprived by deceit, force, or any other immoral practice. It is a specific right to recovery or compensation from those who are wronging us or have injured us in the past.

This right to restoration does not beget the right to commit the very immoral act from which we seek restoration, to imitate others in acting immorally, or to seek revenge against the trespassers or innocent bystanders. But this is precisely what the “get-even” advisors urge us to do.

You Cannot Get Even
Hans Sennholz

The cycle of evil has to stop somewhere.

That’s our job.

When seen in this light, the “get-even” argument is nothing more than a declaration of intention to join the redistribution forces. It may be born from the primitive urge for revenge against government, state or society. But it is individuals who form a government, make a state, and constitute a society. By taking revenge against some of them for the injuries suffered from the hands of others, I am merely reinforcing the evil.


No wealth in the world and no political distribution of this wealth can purchase the peace and harmony so essential to human existence. Peace and harmony can be found only in moral elevation that reaches into every aspect of human life. A free society is the offspring of morality that guides the actions and policies of its members. To affect a rebirth of such a society is to revive the moral principles that gave it birth in the beginning. It is individual rebirth and rededication to the inexorable principles of morality that are the power and the might. The example of great individuals is useful to lead us on the way, for nothing is more contagious for greatness than the power of a great example.

To spearhead a rebirth of our free society, let us rededicate ourselves to a new covenant of prevention, which is a simple restatement of public morality, in the setting of our age of economic redistribution and social conflict it may be stated, as follows:

“No matter how the transfer state may victimize me, I shall seek no transfer payment, or accept any.”

“I shall seek no government grants, loans, or other redistributive favors, or accept any.”

“I shall seek no government orders on behalf of redistribution, or accept any.”

“I shall seek no employment, or accept any, in the government apparatus of redistribution.”

“I shall seek no favors, or accept any, from the regulatory agencies of government.”

“I shall seek no protection from tariff barriers or any other institutional restrictions of trade and commerce.”

“I shall seek no services from, or lend support to collective institutions that are creatures of redistribution.”

“I shall seek no support from, or give support to associations that advocate or practice coercion and restraint.”

We do not know whether our great republic will survive this century. If it can be saved, great men of conviction must lead the way — men who with religious fervor and unbounded courage resist all transfer temptations. The heroes of liberty are no less remarkable for what they suffer than for what they achieve.

You Cannot Get Even
Hans Sennholz

There was a window of opportunity in the 1980s/90s, when such actions by actual old-school, ideologically committed conservatives would have changed things. That window is long gone.

We still need heroes, though.

We still need men who will not be bought, and who will not steal.


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